‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Oscar buzz for Best Picture is now focused on a low-budget movie (a mere $13 million, compared to $167 million for Benjamin Button) by a British director (Danny Boyle, Trainspotting), shot in the slums of Mumbai, with an “R” rating and a quarter of the dialog in Hindi.

The movie, Slumdog Millionaire opens in a very limited number of theaters tomorrow (I can find just one theater that will have it in New York), but is getting major media attention, based on buzz from the fall film festivals;

New York magazine, Slumdog’s Underdog

LA TimesDanny Boyle rises to challenges of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

USA Today,

Slumdog Millionaire is based very loosely on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. As Variety says, the movie,

…took considerable liberties with the original novel, which is based on an apocryphal story about a teen from the slums of Mumbai (played by Dev Patel) who wins 20 million rupees (roughly $400,000) on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

The book came out in 2005 to decidedly mixed reviews. One of the few consumer reviews, in the Washington Post, said, 

The theme here couldn’t be any more obvious if Vanna White spelled it out for us, but what Q & A lacks in subtlety it makes up for in charm and melodrama.

It was no more enthusiastically reviewed in the prepub sources (“for large contemporary fiction collections,” LJ) and is owned in limited quantities in larger libraries.

On the other hand, the audio received much stronger reviews,

This ingenious story reveals much about the class system and corruption of modern-day India. Reader Kerry Shale captures every nuance and distinction of the many personalities involved. We are drawn in by his Japanese tourists, stuffy Australians, and Indians from various social strata. Especially humorous is Thomas when he adopts an Aussie accent. —Boston Globe 

This production gains much from Shale’s excellent and lively performance. Shale makes it sincere, hilarious, heartbreaking and delightful. His gifted reading, full of emphasis, inflection and excitement, is a joy to listen to. —Publisher’s Weekly, August 2005

 Kerry Shale reads the work well. The range of accents he gives the characters adds immeasurably to one’s enjoyment in listening and in no way impedes the listener’s ability to understand. —AudioFile

The city of Mumbai is a major element in the movie and may encourage readers to seek more information about it (a good opportunity for a book display when the movie opens in more theaters; one source says that is scheduled for January). Variety  notes that director Boyle used the book Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found as his guide.

Tie-in edition:

Slumdog Millionaire (original title, Q & A)

Vikas Swarup

  • Paperback: $15; 336 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (November 18, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1439136653
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439136652

Also in audio:

  • Audio CD: $27.95, Unabridged, 5 CD’s
  • Publisher: Audio Partners
  • Read by: Kerry Shale
  • ISBN: 1-57270-487-X
Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
Suketa Mehta
  • Paperback Reprint: $16.95, 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 27, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 0375703403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375703409
  • 3 Responses to “‘Slumdog Millionaire’”

    1. jacaranda Says:

      Loved the film, i also loved the book. It’s true, there were mixed reviews, but i’d like to spring to its defence. Q&A is hugely popular among book groups (and i’m not damning it with this statement, either). Of course it’s ludicrously unsubtle, illogical and sentimental, but it’s also surreal, warm, theatrical, and humorous.And superbly imaginative. Not many writers could come up with twelve stories like that – so their are weaknesses, but this is a first novel by a very busy diplomat whose priority is not his writing. I’d say it’s a pretty good effort considering….

    2. Jennifer Says:

      This movie just made it theatres in San Diego! I saw it last night and thought the movie was brilliant, this is a must see!!!

    3. Hobbit1978 Says:

      I picked up the audio version at my local library last year and found it DELIGHTFUL!! I have not read the book but the audio version was a joy to listen to and thoroughly entertaining. The premise was so off-the-wall that I had to pick it up. Definitely the Forrest Gump of Indian literature. Highly Recommend to Everyone!